When favorites win, the sportsbook usually loses.
Favorites ruled on Sunday. Of the first 15 games of the week, 14 were won by favorites. The only underdog to win was the Los Angeles Rams, who were just 1.5-point underdogs and were favored early in the week before the line swung back to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Las Vegas Raiders made it two underdogs winning when they beat the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.
If you play survivor pools and you didn’t advance, you chose poorly. Week 2 was a layup. It’s no surprise that the three biggest NFL winners for bettors over the weekend were favorites:
Which teams were the biggest winners for the house this weekend?
1. Colts (-3)
2. Chargers (+8.5)
3. Rams (+1.5)
Which teams were the biggest winners for the public?
1. Seahawks (-4.5)
2. Ravens (-7.5)
3. 49ers (-7)
(Via Jeff Stoneback of @BetMGM) pic.twitter.com/YcHhy1PtHC
— Yahoo Sportsbook (@YahooSportsbook) September 21, 2020
We did see a rare week in which underdogs covered but didn’t win. Typically in the NFL, if an underdog covers it also wins straight up. There were seven underdogs who covered but lost: the Bengals, Giants, Falcons, Jaguars, Dolphins, Broncos, and Chargers.
If you took the favorites with the spread in every game, it wasn’t a great day. If you like to bet favorites on teasers though, you couldn’t lose unless you had the Eagles or Saints.
NFL teasers have grown in popularity. In a teaser, a bettor gets to either add six points to the underdog’s spread or subtract six from the favorite. In the Kansas City Chiefs’ case, they were 8.5-point favorites over the Los Angeles Chargers, but just 2.5 if on a teaser thanks to the six-point adjustment. A two-team teaser pays like a normal one-team bet, a three-team teaser pays roughly the same as a two-team parlay, and so forth. And you have to win every game on the teaser to win the bet.
Every single favorite except for the Eagles and Saints covered on a teaser. That’s why sportsbooks aren’t too fond of teasers. NFL lines are so tight that giving six points either way is enormous. Moneyline parlays that combined favorites were also gold for bettors.
Most casual bettors also prefer to bet the overs on NFL games, and that wasn’t bad either. The over hit in 10 of 15 games through Sunday.
We’re all looking for trends in this strange 2020 season, and so far favorites are 18-14 against the spread, the over is 19-13. Home teams are 19-13 straight up. That’s 59.4 percent. In each season since 2015, home teams have had a winning percentage between 52.8 percent and 54.1 percent. So much for the elimination of home-field advantage in the COVID-19 era. Home teams are 17-15 against the spread.
It’s all way too small of a sample to draw any meaningful conclusions. But so far, favorites, home teams and overs are doing just fine. We’ll see how long that lasts.
Here are the winners and losers from the sports betting world over the past week:
New MVP favorite Russell Wilson: If you grabbed Wilson at +600 to win MVP before the season, you did well.
Wilson has already moved to the MVP favorite after two weeks. At BetMGM he’s +300, with Lamar Jackson at +500 and Patrick Mahomes at +550. There’s still a long way to go, but you have to feel pretty good if you’re holding a Wilson for MVP ticket.
The Seahawks have covered the spread twice, including a dramatic cover on Sunday night (one Seahawks bettor had $450,000 riding on that last run by Cam Newton and won). Wilson and the Seahawks are 4.5-point favorites against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3. At very least, nobody is going to feel confident fading Wilson while he’s this hot.
New York Yankees: The Yankees have been battered by injuries all season, but they’re still getting the best odds among all American League teams to win the World Series.
A hot streak by the Yankees has put them back on the map for a title. They’re unlikely to win the AL East, because they’re four games behind the Tampa Bay Rays, but you wouldn’t know it from the World Series odds. The Yankees are +550 to win it all, and the Rays are third at +600. The Los Angeles Dodgers are still the clear favorite at +375.
A 10-game winning streak for the Yankees restored some faith. For bettors who think New York might be peaking at the right time, maybe +550 isn’t too much of a reach.
Bryson DeChambeau believers: DeChambeau has been one of the stories of the 2020 golf season, with his huge drives. In hindsight, his pre-U.S. Open odds of 22-to-1 were surprising given his hot name.
For anyone who took a shot on DeChambeau, Sunday was a fun day. DeChambeau pulled away from the field and easily won the tournament. That’s a nice payoff on a big-name golfer.
One bettor got creative to turn it into a really big payday. A $250 parlay of DeChambeau to win the U.S. Open and the New York Giants to cover 7.5 points vs. the Chicago Bears at BetMGM paid $12,880.
— BetMGM (@BetMGM) September 20, 2020
Having Heisman Trophy odds: There were many days over the past few months when it seemed like college football would be playing without some conferences, or not at all.
It will be far from a normal season, but BetMGM’s Heisman Trophy odds were a welcomed sight after a long offseason.
This year's Heisman Trophy winner will be ___________ 🤔 pic.twitter.com/KWlCcc9mkR
— BetMGM (@BetMGM) September 19, 2020
Everyone who took the New Orleans Saints: There was a significant reverse line movement for “Monday Night Football.”
All the money and bets came in on the Saints. The line kept moving toward the Las Vegas Raiders. Always take note when that happens.
BetMGM said 72.7 percent of tickets and 81 percent of the money was on the Saints a few hours before kickoff. Yet, the line moved from Raiders as 6.5-point underdogs early last week all the way down to 4-point underdogs by kickoff.
The Raiders fell behind 10-0 but outplayed the Saints the rest of the way. They covered easily and won straight up by 10, taking down the Saints 34-24. That might have been good news for the sportsbook on Monday night, but there might be some concern over the Raiders’ 2-0 start: Las Vegas and the 66-to-1 tickets on them to win the Super Bowl represent the third-biggest Super Bowl future liability at BetMGM, behind the Buccaneers and Falcons. (You can probably prepare to rip up those Falcons tickets though.)
Carolina Panthers bettors when Leonard Fournette broke one: There were a few tough beats over the NFL weekend, as usual. The worst might have been for anyone with the Panthers +8.5.
The Panthers have a bad defense, but the offense can score enough to get some backdoor covers. And they trailed by just 7 points late in the game. All the Buccaneers had to do was run out the clock. And then Fournette got through the line.
This play matters more than you think! Tampa Bay -8.5 👀 pic.twitter.com/Wfa1bhgqK8
— Yahoo Sportsbook (@YahooSportsbook) September 20, 2020
Every close loss isn’t a bad beat, though they all seem that way. Seeing Fournette take off for a meaningless long touchdown when the Buccaneers just needed to run out the final 1:56 counts as a bad beat.
Stanley Cup futures bettors: Whether the Tampa Bay Lightning or Dallas Stars lift the Stanley Cup, there’s one winner already. The house.
Even though the Lightning had the second-most money bet on them to win the Cup and the Stars were fifth, it won’t make much of a difference to BetMGM. The sportsbook will win six figures on Stanley Cup futures bets if the Stars win or if Tampa Bay wins.
Having the Vegas Golden Knights get eliminated helped the books. In the Stanley Cup Final futures market, 20.6 percent of the money was on the Golden Knights. The New York Islanders were the biggest liability for BetMGM due to a $15,000 bet on them at 16-to-1. That would have paid $240,000 but the Islanders were eliminated by Tampa Bay. The Lightning were one of the favorites to win the championship all season so there won’t be any huge paydays if Tampa Bay wins.
The Lightning won 3-2 on Monday night to tie the Stanley Cup Final with the Stars 1-1.
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